June 18, 2018
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Hiroshima event to focus on peace, reconciliation

By Dylan Riley, Special to the BDN

BANGOR, Maine — A Bar Harbor man plans to bring a story of peace and reconciliation from the other side of the world to Maine as part of a commemoration Friday, Aug. 6, of the 65th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing.

Masanobu Ikemiya, 64, was born in China to Japanese parents and then was raised in Japan, will present a portion of the documentary film “Railroad of Love: Spanning Australia and Japan” at 2:30 p.m. at the Bangor Public Library. The film is the story of an Australian Catholic priest who traveled between Japan and Australia after World War II to try to heal the animosity between the two cultures.

The commemoration will begin at 2 p.m. in Peirce Park next to the library to remember the people killed at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Ikemiya, who is also a concert pianist and a back-to-the-land enthusiast, has lived in Maine since 1972 and said he saw the film last year. He decided to show it at the commemoration in Bangor because it bespeaks values of peace and justice, he said.

The film is not about peace through victory in war, but through “realizing our mistakes and forgiving each other,” Ikemiya said.

Ikemiya’s parents and grandparents experienced the war.

“Toward the end of the war, Okinawa became a really horrible battleground and every night B-29s would come over and bomb the villages,” Ikemiya said. “And my grandmother used to just stay in the basement being bombed.

“The horror of it, everything burning, bombed, and at one point all the islanders … decided at least kids should be sent to the mainland [of] Japan to escape the danger and the American soldiers landing. So they decided to put all the kids in one boat to escape to the mainland.

“And I think there were 1,800 kids, all their primary school kids … and it was torpedoed by an American submarine. All the kids died, and my grandmother never forgave herself for letting my uncle” go, Ikemiya said.

Ikemiya said there was little food and few schools when he was growing up, because so much had been bombed during the war, and that its aftermath had a big influence on him. He used to live in Nara, Japan, and the Rev. Tony Glynn, the man portrayed in the film, was greatly respected by priests there.

“We oftentimes think that one person can’t change the world, but his determination and love for people, for Australians … he just kept at it and created this beautiful relationship between these two countries,” Ikemiya said.

The movie isn’t just about Australia and Japan, according to Ikemiya; it can hold meaning for any country.

Ikemiya said he wouldn’t show the entire film, just the first hour, because it’s too long. Before the film, he and his wife, Tomoko, will read “Grandmother’s Doll,” a kamishibai or children’s picture story, based on the experiences of a Hiroshima survivor.

Miss Nanako, a “friendship doll” sent to Bangor from the Peace Resource Center at Wilmington College in Ohio, will be on display at the reading. Miss Nanako is one of 50 Japanese friendship dolls made in Japan and distributed to schools and organizations across the U.S. by the Japanese Cultural Center at Mukogawa Fort Wright Institute in Spokane, Wash.

The Peace and Justice Center of Eastern Maine is organizing the commemoration in collaboration with the Ikemiyas and the Jim Harney Chapter of Veterans for Peace. For more information, call 942-9343.

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